Sweeping changes passed with a veto

22nd September 1995 at 01:00
Legislation granting South Africa's education minister, Sibusiso Bengu, the power to implement sweeping changes to schooling caused a constitutional controversy when it was tabled in parliament last week.

The legislation was opposed by all parties in the Government of National Unity except the African National Congress, on the grounds that it infringes the constitutional powers of the country's nine provinces to run education.

Delays to the legislation could set back government plans to implement radical changes to South Africa's school system, proposed recently by a multi-party Review Committee on School Organisation, Governance and Funding.

Opposition parties argued that the National Education Policy Bill 1995 gave the central government powers far beyond the right to set national "norms and standards" in the school system, and that the ANC alliance was attempting to reverse federal concessions made in constitutional negotiations in the months preceding democratic elections last year.

More than a third of MPs from all parties other than the ANC signed a petition calling for a Constitutional Court decision on the legislation and cancellation of discussion on the Bill because it was sub judice.

Speaker Frene Ginwala ruled that the debate could go ahead because it was conceivable that agreement could be reached on the Bill, making a court ruling unnecessary.

The ensuing debate ended in agreement that the Bill could be passed in parliament which it was but could only be enacted if it was upheld by a Constitutional Court.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today